Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I hate Oklahoma

Nobody can do the voodoo like you do. - Kevin Calabro (former voice of the Sonics) talking about Shawn Kemp

In January a women was doing a Houdini-like underwater trick and nearly drowned during an Oklahoma Thunder halftime show. Luckily she lived. But it is further evidence that the curse of the Sonics is real. A long-time Sonics' season ticket holder actually did the research and claims to have put a curse on the new franchise, he traveled to Oklahoma City to sprinkle green and gold dust in the foyer of the Ford Center -- home of the Thunder. I believe in the curse, because it makes me feel better. I hate Oklahoma for taking my favorite team. From the moment Howard Schultz did the dirty deal with Clayton Bennett they were a doomed franchise. It has been a weird season in Oklahoma City and a sad one in Seattle.

First Clay Bennett and the rest of his group, Professional Basketball Club, lied about trying to keep the team in Seattle. Then when Bennett brought the team to OKC, he went against his own instincts about what makes a good team name. Originally he said plural was important, like, the Suns, Spurs, and Sonics, but he pulled a 180, and named the franchise Thunder. Thunder sounds like a defunct arena football team. He coulda given it a little historical value with a name like Thunderbirds, but he is an aggressively ignorant meat head.

The next step was predictable. Pick the trendiest most overused color in pro sports - teal. Then approve a boring ass logo - a basketball with a couple swoosh marks. They are devoid of character - white washed. Who are they? Recently OKC's mayor complained about the city's lack of identity. But that is not true. OKC is known for being hell on earth. compiled a list of the top ten hells on earth , Oklahoma City was #5 (Baghdad was #10). It's the worst city in America for tornadoes. Its in the middle of Tornado Alley.

OKC is hell for Seattle. When Hearst announced the Seattle Post-Intelligencer would no longer be in hardcopy form, I texted friends, "the P-I is moving to OKC." My friend Anthony wrote back, "Damn!! They're a boom town. What next?" Good question. Maybe the space needle, Pearl Jam, sheesh send Bill Gates too. Might as well box up the pike place market and ship it out with an OKC sticker on it. Seattle in my rearview mirror. Oklahoma is where Seattle goes to die.

Bennett was officially honored for killing the Sonics. He was named person of the year in Oklahoma. Thunder watchblog Bend It Like Bennett had this to say about that. "Yes, bringing the 2-24 shell of a basketball team to OKC at the expense of another region's fan-base, civic heritage and cultural identity is quite possibly the most important achievement in our city's history . . . they (Seattle) weren't "Real America" anyway."

Here is some cultural heritage for you. The morning the Sonics left, I ran into Rod Guevara, at the Sonics team shop. Rod is the biggest Sonics fan I know and its in his blood, his whole family is Sonic crazed. I was looking at some Supe's socks, but was not going to buy them because the line was too long. Rod balked at getting anything, said he was thinking about it. He ended up bringing home armloads of stuff. Rod sent me six pairs of socks.

Men in Rod's family have called each other every year on the anniversary of the day the Supersonics won the whole damn thing. They play pieces of the broadcast to each other over the phone. That was their tradition. A rumor has been surging that Clay Bennett will get our championship banners rehung in OKC. Rod's family plan is to go in (to Key Arena) posing as painters and take them down, so they don't go to OKC. They couldn't bear giving our history away. Those banners are all we have left.

"This would never happen in Europe," says my friend Cod referring to the death of the Sonics. Cod was hurt so badly that he swore off the NBA. If he detaches himself, he risks nothing. He has a safe place as a European soccer and U Dub football fanatic. Fans literally buy into the futbol club and vote on the coach and management's future. Stadiums are not built with public taxes. Its kind of a crazy concept, to not be held hostage by a franchise - thats the American way. College football will not betray him either. The Huskies may have lost every game last year, but they will be back for this season. There is community tradition in that.

A lot of Americans help define themselves by scoffing at the Superbowl, by not giving a rats ass about the value of sports and what teams mean to a community. But for many, sport is part of the fiber, especially a franchise that is 41 years old. Now, I know that little bit by little bit when you lose a piece of your culture it does not repair itself and you lose a bit of your identity and that turns into anger and bitterness towards the enemy - whoever took it from you.

Looks like Kevin Durant is the nail in the pine box. He was the second pick in the draft for the Seattle SuperSonics a couple years ago. Last year he was rookie of the year as a Sonic - their last year. Now he is unconscious with the Thunder, he had 46 points the other night, pushing his season avg. up to 25 points a game. It hurts to hear about how good your ex is doing and dream about what could have been. Reality burns. All we can do is look from the outside in.

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